Good, but Not Yet

Is Tyler Colvin the real deal? Image source

The Shiny New Toy Syndrome is as prevalent in baseball as anywhere else. Whenever a youg player comes up, we think: "Oh boy! This guy is the next [insert famous guy]!" In fact, we fans are so eager for the next great player, we often will let the very first homerun or double inform our opinions for the following three weeks. In fact, when the young Jason Heyward made his major league debut, he launched the first pitch he saw into Antlanta's blue sky. Almost all month, whenever Heyward was mentioned, the name Albert Pujols would follow.

Currently, Jason Heyward has a .378 wOBA. In Prince Albert's first season, he hit .421. Ha ha. Not close. For reference, in Alfonso Soriano's best year, 2002, he hit .378, so Heyward is nothing to sniff at. However, a peak Soriano and any Albert Pujols are not the same thing.

It is with that in mind, I bring about the topic at hand: Tyler Colvin. After his first start of the 2010 season, when he crushed a ball into the bleachers in the second inning, Twitter exploded with comments calling for Soriano's benching and Colvin anointing. For comparison's sake, let's look at their OBP/SLG/wOBA lines since then (excluding today's performance):

Colvin: .404/.659/.451
Sori:   .338/.478/.357

Wow! Maybe our first impressions were right! Maybe now is the time to anoint Colvin as our new left fielder?

Not so. And here's why: Colvin is not an OBP kind of guy. All through the minors, Colving struggled to reach just an average OBP (which would be around .320). Instead, he spent a lot of time around .310, meaning he's more likely to be around .300 in the majors (which is where guys like Yuniesky Betancourt live).

"But wait! He lost weight! He had a great Spring Training! He's a new guy!"

Is he? Let's look at his career (which is mostly 2010) plate discipline numbers, courtesy of Fangraphs:

Outside Zone Swing%
Colvin:      35.5%
League Av.: ~25.0%

Outside Zone Contact%
Colvin:      53.7%
League Av.: ~60.0%

Total Contact%
Colvin:      73.2%
League Av.: ~80.0%

Swinging Strike%
Colvin:      13.4%
League Av.:  ~8.0%

What do all these numbers tell us? In short, Colvin has been swinging like a .300 OBP guy, not a .400 OBP. His power is legit -- not .600 SLG legit, but legit enough -- but he is not the player we may think he is. In fact, the updated ZiPS projections system still thinks Colvin will be a .300 wOBA guy (which is well below average) from here, which is about what every other projection system saw in Colvin before the year.

Honestly, I think and hope this guy will be better than that, but I seriously doubt he will be -- oh, let's say -- the next Albert Pujols.

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  1. OMG GREAT ANALYSIS...could he be our Ryan Braun? I'll compare.